Wide Receiver Victor Cruz, a fan favorite in New York since his emergence as the salsa dancing Paterson, New Jersey product, has been released from the New York Giants.
Cruz, 30, spent seven productive and emotional years with the franchise that signed him as an undrafted free agent out of UMass in 2010, utilizing him as a masterful weapon in the slot.
Cruz took a pay cut this past season to remain with the club at $5.4 million, but was set to make $9.4 million in 2017. The Giants have freed up $7.5 million in cap space by cutting ties with him.
Cruz broke out onto the scene in 2011 with a stat-sheet stuffing season: 82 receptions, 1,536 yards, and nine touchdowns. His signature play came in Week 16 of that year against against the Jets when he caught a 10-yard pass from Eli Manning and took it to the house for a 99 yard touchdown.
That same season, the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI, where Cruz caught a touchdown before breaking out his signature salsa dance moves. 2014 proved to be devastating for him as he tore his patellar tendon in his knee while attempting to snag a touchdown pass from Eli against the Philadelphia Eagles.
2015 was sure to be a bounce-back year, but a nagging left calf injury kept him away from the turf for another full season. He finally made his return to the gridiron on September 11, 2016, a full 700 days after his original knee injury.
In a season opening victory against the Dallas Cowboys, Cruz caught the game-winning touchdown. Throughout the season, the veteran receiver showed moments of the dazzling brilliance that fans had become accustomed to during his tenure.
Acting as mentor to young star Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Sterling Shepard, Cruz graciously accepted the role of elder statesman for the young receiving corp. Cruz has been a staple in New York and embodies the hustle of the city.
He is the underdog that we all see ourselves as. The working men and women of the city can easily identify with the undrafted phenom who took the city by the storm. His rehabilitation only serves as more of a testament to his will, working his way back from two injuries that surely would have ended the football aspirations of others.
Even with the jubilance of OBJ, a catch by number 80 in Met Life still evoked the thunderous roars of "Cruuuuuz". He was class personified for the Giants, and will always be a muse for New Yorkers to marvel at.